When I went to say goodbye to Jackie, I sat next to her bed, and held her hand. On the other side of the bed was her oldest sister, Stephanie, and sitting at Jackie’s feet was her oldest friend, Michaela. They asked me if I wanted them to leave, but I said no. I’d already had my private conversations with Jackie, and frankly I knew if they weren’t there I’d never have the courage to leave her bedside.

I rubbed Jackie’s head while she slept, and I chatted a bit with Michaela and Stephanie. As we fell into silence, I noticed that Jackie’s iPod was randomly playing “Chasing Cars,” by Snow Patrol. It was specifically at this verse:

I don’t quite know
How to say
How I feel
Those three words
Are said too much
They’re not enough

I looked at Michaela and then Stephanie. “Are you kidding me that this song is playing right now?” And then I started laughing, because I had to. It was the kind of absurdly serious moment that defined our friendship. Jackie and I always joked that our lives over the last five years were straight out of a TV drama, but one of us would always point out that we were more of a comedy with dark twists. We had to laugh, because if we didn’t, we’d cry. So we made morbid, self-deprecating jokes to carry us through the hard moments.

I wanted to laugh with Jackie about the Snow Patrol song. I was not ready to have a hard moment without hearing her laugh. So I opened my mouth to tell her, but when I looked at her serene sleeping face, the only words that came out were, “I love you.”

And she mouthed back, “I love you, too.”